How can individuals and corporations manage and reduce their carbon contributions?
By 2050, the world must double its energy and food supply to meet demand generated in large part by a growing increasingly prosperous population. As demand for resources surpasses all historical precedent, there is a simultaneous need to balance increased production and consumption with the urgent steps necessary to monitor, manage, and mitigate climate change and its associated ecological and environmental risks.
Individuals and corporations are major contributors to the world’s carbon emissions. Agricultural production, forestry, transportation, industry and commercial goods production, and other systems—level processes are responsible for the majority of emissions—and their volume is often driven by consumer demand. As individuals, we have an opportunity to act by assessing the carbon emissions involved in every dimension of our daily lives, like what we eat, how we commute, and what we buy to how our companies produce, transport, and store their goods. Taken together, our individual decisions as consumers and producers can help manage the world’s emissions crisis. In addition to responding to consumer demand, corporations across all industries can manage their carbon emissions while both saving costs and driving revenue over the long-term by investing in climate-friendly technologies and processes.
This challenge is being run by MIT’s Solve in collaboration with MIT's Climate CoLab. These two initiatives are harnessing the world's collective intelligence to surface solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. This challenge will be jointly listed on both CoLab platforms so members from both communities can seamlessly participate and collaborate.
What challenges do we face with existing tools, strategies, and approaches?
Carbon Removal Technologies
In 2016, the scientific community has yet to invent a breakthrough that would allow us to remove carbon from the atmosphere in a sustainable and cost-effective way. However, small-scale technological advances are continuously being developed and prototyped. Which of these can be further developed, tested and deployed to remove carbon at point or from the atmosphere?
Carbon Pricing Strategies
Creating one cohesive global marketplace for carbon pricing could have a transformative impact on reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change, and many global policy-makers are focused on intergovernmental efforts to introduce a global carbon price. However, this strategy has hit multiple political roadblocks. How can businesses and communities put a cost on carbon emissions, taking the lead and introduce ‘bottom-up’ carbon pricing that creates workable markets on a local scale that can then expand?
Large-Scale Emission Reduction Approaches
The 2016 Paris Agreement, the recently adopted global climate compact, outlined a framework under which national governments would adopt and enforce legislation to reduce carbon emissions at the individual country level. Although this approach holds great promise to reduce emissions, it requires country-level compliance, focuses on emissions that a government can control, and still does not help us manage emissions that will still be released. How can individuals, communities, and businesses take the lead in large-scale solutions to measure and reduce their emissions?
So what now, and how can Solve help to best enable our world to manage this two-fold challenge?
The Solve community aims to help fill some of the acute gaps in thinking, implementation, and discovery which exist in the effort to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. To help jumpstart additive solutions to manage our global emissions crisis, the Solve community will seek to generate and implement solutions to:
- Generate, test and deploy carbon removal technologies that could be deployed by individuals and/or corporations, at point or at scale.
- Suggest implementable ‘bottom-up’ carbon pricing approaches for communities and businesses.
- Propose large-scale individual-level and business-level solutions to significantly reduce emissions.